News

Welcome aboard to our new student Eran Altschuler

25 October 2018

We welcome our new M.Sc. student Eran Altschuler!

Congratulations and warm wishes to our students Inbal and Yosef

27 January 2018

To Inbal for the birth of her daughter, and to Yosef for the birth of his son. We wish them and their families joy and happiness

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New publications

Contrasting aspects of tailswinds and asymmetrical response to crosswinds in soaring migrants

21 February 2018

Becciu, P., Panuccio, M., Catoni, C., Dell'Omo, G., and Sapir, N. 2018. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 72(28). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-018-2447-0  

Hovering hummingbird wing aerodynamics during the annual cycle. II. Implications of wing feather moult

21 February 2018

Achache Y, Sapir N, Elimelech Y. 2018. Hovering hummingbird wing aerodynamics during the annual cycle. II. Implications of wing feather moult. Royal Society Open Science 5: 171766. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.171766  

Moving in the Anthropocene: Global reductions in terrestrial mammalian movements

24 January 2018

Science 359 (6374): 466-469 http://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6374/466  

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Contrasting aspects of tailswinds and asymmetrical response to crosswinds in soaring migrants

Becciu, P., Panuccio, M., Catoni, C., Dell'Omo, G., and Sapir, N. 2018. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 72(28). doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-018-2447-0

ABSTRACT

Billions of migrating birds travel between their breeding and over-wintering areas twice a year, encountering various environmental conditions along their migration routes.Wind is of utmost importance for birds as wind speed and direction may strongly affect the birds’ flight speed and metabolism. Specifically, tailwinds were found to initiate flight and facilitate higher migration intensity and faster migratory movement while lowering the energetic cost of flight. Using radar, field observations and local meteorological measurements, we studied spring migrating raptors in a migration bottleneck in Italy near the Strait of Messina, between Sicily and Calabria. We explored the effects of wind on flight speed and the intensity of migration in soaring migrants. We found that the birds’ ground speed was positively affected by tailwind speed, and thus, tailwind likely allowed the birds to reach their destination faster. In addition, bird airspeed decreased under increasing tailwind speed, presumably lowering the energetic cost of flight. These findings are in line with predictions of optimal migration flight theory, yet, tailwind had an unexpected negative effect on migration intensity. We suggest that tailwind conditions induced a change in route selection by the migrants at a regional scale, causing a local decline in migration intensity. This change involves the undertaking of cross sea flight rather than overland detour. Furthermore, we found a modular response to crosswinds as birds compensated for winds blowing towards the sea and drifted when winds blew towards land. Our findings suggest that migrating raptors respond to en route wind conditions and coastline geography by adjusting several features of their flight in a manner that will increase their travel speed, reduce the energetic cost of flight, and permit a safe journey.

About us

We are a group of scientists devoted to the study of animal flight, including animal movement ecology, behavior, physiology and biomechanics. We study wild animals in the field and in the lab using a diversity of research approaches. We welcome applications for M.Sc. and Ph.D. studies and post-doctoral work in our group at the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology at the University of Haifa.